Although rewarding and exciting, the journey to starting a successful business is often littered with potholes. And while there’s no fool-proof way to achieve start-up success, you can learn from the mistakes of myself and others to help make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
Here are our top five mistakes start-ups make that you should try to avoid.
1. Expecting success straight away
To develop a successful business takes time, hard work and a lot of perseverance. All too often new entrepreneurs get disheartened when they don’t achieve immediate success. Even worse, a lot of businesses crumble before they even begin, as they’re unable to deal with the challenges that come their way. By planning for the worst, you can make sure to put the necessary safety measures in place so that if the business takes longer than expected to get off the ground, you’re able to cope.
2. Creating the perfect product before your start selling
Why waste time perfecting a product that nobody wants to buy? Rather, focus your energy on developing a MVP (minimum viable product) that you can use to test the market. This way, you’re able to gain valuable insights from actual consumers, which you can then use to further develop and perfect your offering down the line. Trying to be perfect at everything from the get-go can be detrimental for a start-up, and can really slow down your momentum. That’s why it’s important to always consider the cost versus benefit, helping you prioritise what is essential to the core product.
3. Trying to do all at once
As an entrepreneur, time will always be your nemesis. With an endless list of things to do and only limited hours in a day (not to mention limited funds in the bank), it’s essential that you learn to prioritise the most important tasks that are actually going to earn you money. Focus on the crucial few tasks that bring the most rewards or add the most value to your business, and then let the rest of it take a backseat.
4. Not knowing who your ideal customer is
When it comes to marketing and selling your product, it’s vital that you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is. In today’s world, it's not enough to simply try a broad approach to marketing, you need to understand your customers inside out. Take the time to do the necessary research to find out who you’re trying to reach and where you can communicate with them. Understanding your customer will also drive your marketing
strategy, playing a key role in helping you decide how best to engage with your target market, so that your efforts are well-received.
5. Not understanding social media for business
Gone are the days when your business could get by without making use of social media. But to get the most out of social media, you need to do more than simply have a presence. At the very least, you need a sound understanding of how each platform works, which ones to focus on, and how your business can use them to harness the marketing potential of the Internet. For example, running ads on social media is an easy and cost-effective way to get your business seen by you target market. Tackling something new may be intimidating and take time to learn, but if you’re not willing to adapt and embrace technological advances it can really hurt your business.
So, there you go a few mistakes to avoid when starting out. If you’d like some help in regards to what actually TO DO starting a business then grab your copy of our free Start A Business Toolkit, it outlines all the first steps you need to take to get your business off the ground. Get your toolkit here.
Many people have great ideas, but very few are able to transform these ideas into successful and profitable businesses. This is often because there are far more factors at play than simply having a great idea! It’s also the reason why it’s so important to spend time doing the necessary groundwork and researching your business ideas before investing too much time, energy and money into them. Thorough research will help keep your expectations in check, while also uncovering any potential challenges or potholes in your thinking. But how do you go about researching an idea? Here are four quick and easy things you can do to help you evaluate your big idea.
1. Do a price point check
Regardless of your product or service, identifying the right price point is vital to successfully starting up any business. By figuring out how much can you charge, you’ll quickly learn how much you need to sell to make a viable and profitable business. But figuring out your price point can be tricky. If priced too high people won’t buy it, but if you ask for too little then your profit margin slides or people may presume that your product is poor quality. To figure out your perfect price, you need to first factor in all your costs and then see how you can maximise your margins while still remaining attractive to customers. It’s also a good idea to look at what competitors are charging, as this can serve as a good guideline to what your future customers may be prepared to spend.
2. Learn about the need
The best way to learn about the needs of your target audience is to simply ask them by putting together a focus group of relevant people. The point of this exercise is to figure out whether there is in fact a demand for your business idea, how people feel about existing products currently available within your market, and how much they would be prepared to spend on your product or service. Reach out to friends and see if they would be willing to help you test out a business idea and provide some feedback. Your goal should be to put together a broad group of people, instead of simply focusing on close friends and family who are more likely to give you a biased response. By sending out a quick and straightforward email survey you can gain valuable insights from honest responses. Social media means that you now have access to a far greater network of people than you previously would have, so don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and/or advice via a status update too.
3. Understand your competition
A great way to help develop and improve your business plan is to analyse your competitors. If you can figure out what they are doing wrong, you can adjust your business to cater to your customer’s needs by providing a superior product or service. A good starting point is to read customer reviews of similar competitor businesses. For this exercise make sure you focus on the very bad reviews, as these are likely to give you the most insights and guide you on where you can improve, or what you should avoid.
4. Do a SWOT analysis
Although it may seem obvious, few things are more beneficial to researching your business idea than conducting a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis. A SWOT is an analysis of the strengths of your business idea, product or service; the weaknesses of your product or service, and potential opportunities and threats to the industry. By gaining a greater understanding of the strengths and flaws of your business idea, looking at everything from product development and cost, to external factors such as foreign exchange rates, politics and market trends, you’re sure to gain a better understanding of whether your product or service is likely to become a success in the current environment.